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Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association Blog

Is New York State Banning Wood Burning? The Answer is NO!

6 January 2022

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As we ring in the New Year, many have reached out to the NewsChannel 9 Your Stories team wondering if you’ll still be able to burn wood or wood products in 2022.

 

They reached out to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to find out if there are any changes to the current policy to ensure you know the most up-to-date rules as of today.

A DEC spokesperson confirms to NewsChannel 9, New York State is not considering passing legislation that would prohibit anyone to burn wood or wood products in 2022 at this time.

However, the state’s Climate Action Council (CAC) is researching ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the goals of The Climate Act proposed by former President Barack Obama.

The draft of the CAC’s “Scoping Plan” does not contain any specific recommendations directly related to wood burning, but conversations are in the works about putting New York State on a path to an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

In this drafted plan, members of the council’s advisory panel describe scenarios where wood consumption decreases within that time frame until 2050.

Starting Saturday, January 1, the Climate Action Council’s 120 day public comment period will begin. 

The Council is seeking feedback from New Yorkers on these approaches to energy and emissions in New York. If you’re interested in weighing in, click here. NEHPBA will be creating our own Call-To-Action in the coming days.

The Council will also hold at least six public hearings across the State, both in-person and virtual. The goal is to release the final Scoping Plan by January 1, 2023.

Article Source: https://www-localsyr-com.cdn.ampproject.org/


Climate Action Council wants to reduce 'Upstate NY wood smoke' - Albany Times-Union

21 December 2021

ALBANY - The council working on the beginning stages of a plan to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases in the state is looking into how reducing wood smoke could benefit the health of upstate New Yorkers.

The 22-member Climate Action Council is in the midst of a year-long study of how to achieve the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), an ambitious law passed in 2019 mandating the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent when compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

During the October council meeting, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Director of Energy and Environmental Analysis Carl Mas made a presentation predicting reducing wood smoke by 40 percent upstate could reduce non-fatal heart attacks, asthma-related hospital visits and deaths significantly.

Wood smoke upstate comes from home heating methods, such as wood stoves, pellet stoves and fireplaces, as well as campfires and industrial production.

The council is looking at two scenarios for decreasing greenhouse gases, one of which includes the use of biofuels and green hydrogen. The second scenario envisions transitioning to renewables without biofuels. Both call for reducing wood consumption by 40 percent “relative to business as usual” by 2050, according to NYSERDA.

This reduction would have the greatest health benefits in upstate New York, according to Mas’ presentation, because more wood is burned here.

Reducing wood burning would have two health benefits, according to Mas, though only one of them has to do with climate change.

The first is reducing the small, inhalable particles produced by burning wood.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies President Emeritus William H. Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and expert on wood smoke, said burning wood produces large amounts of tiny particles called aromatic compounds, carbon-based molecules that can cause cancer.

It is also “increasingly believed by the medical profession” that breathing particles from wood smoke can lead to increased rates of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, Schlesinger said.

Wood smoke produces far more of these inhalable particles – some of which are carcinogenic – than all other forms of combustion in the state combined, according to Mas’ presentation.

Reducing wood consumption by 40 percent in New York would have quantifiable benefits, according to Mas’ presentation, with per capita health benefits from 2020-2050 of between $3,000 and $4,000 for Albany County and much of the Catskills.

Reducing wood burning would also reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide released into the atmosphere. Though burning wood only produces a tiny silver of all the nitrogen oxide released into the state’s air, the chemical has a drastic effect on climate change. A pound of nitrogen oxide has as much of an effect on the atmosphere as 265–298 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to the EPA.

Burning wood produces more nitrogen oxide than burning oil or natural gas, according to NYSERDA.

The council has not released its recommendations on how to reduce wood smoke upstate, but the task appears challenging, as wood, unlike other fuels, can be gotten for free by just foraging for it.

Kyle Morrison, who took over Gem Stove and Fireplace Company in Greene County from his grandfather a year ago, said wood stoves and pellet stoves are attractive to people because their fuels are cheap.

“Recently, with times changing and fuel prices going up, a lot of people are getting into wood,” he said.  “Our wood stove sales have been absolutely through the roof this year – pellet stoves as well were through the roof – we’re up about 230 percent in sales compared to last year.”

Morrison said his business has never recommended heating a home only with a wood or pellet stove, but that people requested it anyway. For many who aren't on municipal gas lines, choosing an alternative heat source like wood, oil or propane is a necessity.

A ton of wood chips costs $330, and most homes only need two to three tons to get through a winter, making it cheaper than propane, Morrison said, adding that those with access to firewood could essentially heat their homes for free.

New York isn’t the only state to set climate goals. Vermont released its draft Climate Action Plan in November, which has similar goals to New York’s but different methods. Notably, Vermont’s plan actually endorses burning wood as a way of cutting emissions.

“Efficient wood heat – whether with efficient stoves or automated boilers and furnaces – both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can save consumers money compared to fossil heat,” according to the plan.

Vermont’s plan endorses switching “from fossil-fuel dependent heating systems to cleaner and more efficient systems” including efficient wood stoves and heat pumps.

Though New York’s Climate Action Council has not yet made its recommendations, it is considering models where all new heating systems installed after 2035 would be heat pumps – low-energy systems that pull air from the surrounding air or ground to heat and cool homes.

State Sen. Daphne Jordan, whose district includes Columbia County and part of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties, said her initial question was “if anyone at the council has reached out to, or even considered, the estimated hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, the vast majority of whom live in upstate and rely on wood to heat their home, to gauge their thoughts and concerns about this potential proposal?”

“…Wood remains a reliable, affordable, accessible fuel source” Jordan's statement continued. “Before Albany rushes forward with potential new mandates on the use of wood for home heating – mandates that would appear to target upstate – the Council should carefully consider the potential negative impact of such a proposal on family budgets.”

The council’s recommendations are due at the end of the year.

Source: Albany Times-Union 


Tough Winters, Challenging Economic Cycles Demonstrate the Importance of Clean, Safe Natural Gas and All Sources of Fuel

13 December 2021

Winter officially arrives on December 20 and Americans should expect to spend more to heat their homes than last year.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts home heating costs will go up because fuel prices are rising, and demand has increased over the previous winter. The good news is that recovery since the depths of the COVID-19 economic decline is driving the trend. But it still won’t help households struggling to make ends meet cope with a jump in heating costs.

It’s another reminder that, especially during periods where all sources of energy are seeing price increases, energy diversity in the marketplace is the best strategy for consumer choice, safety, and cost control.

Federal officials say homes that heat with natural gas will pay as much as 30 percent more this winter – with an average cost of $746 to make it through the cold months. But households using all fuels are expected to see increases. While electric heat is expected to increase at a more modest rate—the cost of electricity already leaves many families little wiggle room in their budgets. The Energy Information Administration says homes that rely on electric heat will spend a whopping $1,268 on their electricity bills during the winter season.

Homes that rely on heating oil, meanwhile, will pay about 43 percent more this winter. And propane fuel users will pay more than 1.5 times what they did last year to heat their homes, according to the EIA.

“Tough winters and challenging economic cycles really demonstrate how important it is for consumers to have access to clean, safe natural gas and all other sources of fuel,” says Karen Arpino, Executive Director of the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. “There is a role for all sources of energy in providing consumer choices and real diversity in the types of fuel that are available.”

Advocates who are pushing to limit access to natural gas and other fuels while at the same time promoting all-electric homes do not have the best interests of the American household in mind.

“Imagine how much higher costs would be this winter if our energy choices were drastically limited? New natural gas furnaces are more than 90 percent efficient and 16 times less expensive than electric heating,” Arpino says. “All-electric homes are also less reliable and less safe during major weather events and natural disasters.”

NEHPBA is part of a coalition of organizations, individuals and industry groups fighting natural gas bans and working every day to preserve true energy diversity. The association represents nearly 300 member companies – mostly individual retailers and service providers – that sell, install and service wood-fuel systems and provide expertise to consumers on primary and secondary home heating strategies .

“Americans have been through a lot over the past two years, and new challenges continue to emerge every day,” Arpino says. “Threatening to remove a family’s choice in how to meet a basic human need is outrageous. Our members will be there for their customers this winter, helping them get through it and make the most of their heating systems at a time of increased costs. And we will be there with them every day – fighting to maintain consumer choice and energy diversity.”


Vermont Climate Action Plan Passed, Buyer Beware!

3 December 2021

The Vermont Climate Council passed an Action Plan on Wednesday by a vote of 19-4. The 273-page plan is part of the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act which requires greenhouse gas emissions drop 26% by 2025 and 40% by the end of the decade. These are not goals, these are mandates and failure to meet these mandates is a violation of the Global Warming Solutions Act. 

The thermal strategy is to ensure buildings use less energy while heating with more electricity. This means that 90,000 homes will need to be weatherized by the end of the decade-an increase of about 200%. The plan also requires a new “net zero” building code for new construction, efficiency standards for rental properties, and electric-only water heaters with modular demand response communication so the UTILITY companies can remotely control the water temperature. Also included in the plan is the creation of a Clean Heat Standard to incentivize heating companies to reduce their customer’s carbon emissions. Selling renewable liquid fuels, pellet stoves, and heat pumps would generate credits that fossil fuel wholesalers would be required to purchase. 

As far as transportation goes, the plan uses incentives, taxes, and regulations to "persuade" Vermonters to buy and drive electric cars. By 2030, in order to meet the emission reduction mandates, 170,000 electric vehicles will need to replace gas-run vehicles. This is an increase of nearly 4000%. The plan allows for this by banning the sale of new combustion engine vehicles by 2035, giving cash incentives for electric vehicles and more fees to those who drive vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel. Additionally, even though MA, RI and CT have abandoned the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), VT has not. The plan calls on lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow the state to join the cap and trade program if it comes to fruition. 

Governor Scott’s Administration released a signed statement disagreeing with many aspects of the plan. In the statement, Governor Scott said he “cannot support proposals which impose a fiscal commitment beyond the means of most Vermonters.”  The electric stoves, cars, and heating systems that must be purchased in order to comply with the Global Warming Solution Act represent billions of dollars of new purchases. The Vermont legislature will pick up where the Climate Council left off in determining who pays the bill. The Legislature will start that process in January.  NEHPBA will keep you updated!


Forced Electrification Will Cost New York Families Billions and Put Grid Reliability at Risk, Consumer and Business Groups Warn NYC

17 November 2021

NEW YORK – Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), the leading North American energy and environmental advocate for families and businesses, and the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA), today testified during a public hearing of the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection about a suite of bills seeking to forcibly electrify existing buildings and phase out appliances like gas stoves.

See the full article here 

Article & Image source: consumerenergyalliance.org


Vermont Has an Electric "Mack Truck" Heading Their Way

3 November 2021

The VT Climate Council is finalizing it's plan to eliminate fossil fuels in Vermont, and the cost of this effort is coming clearer. The plan calls for 80,000 air source heat pumps and 60,000 electric water heaters to be installed in Vermont buildings by 2025. On the road, 40,000 new electric vehicles will need to replace gasoline powered cars in the next three years. If this happens, the amount of electricity needed to fuel these cars and homes will be significant, an additional 796,000 MWhs. And the plan requires that these added electrons to come from local and renewable power plants. As one Climate Councilor admitted, Vermonters don’t yet understand "the Mack truck that’s coming at them" and “how this is going to impact their lives and what it’s going to cost.”  The Climate Council will unveil the first draft of the Climate Action Plan next Tuesday. Here is a sneak peak. 

  • In 2025, no water heater, oven, or stove that use oil or gas should be installed in a Vermont home or business. In the next three years, 22% of Vermont homes should install an electric heat pump.  A Clean Heat Standard should be implemented to encourage fuel suppliers to sell oil and gas blended with renewable fuel. And 120,000 homes should be weatherized. 
  • After 2035, no new cars can be sold in Vermont with an internal combustion engine. In order to convince more Vermonters to purchase an electric vehicle, the report recommends Vermont join the regional Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) which would raise a tax on gas and diesel to fund EV incentives. 
  • In 2030, 100% of electricity purchased by Vermont utilities should be "carbon free."  

So….what happens if this doesn’t happen? The law now provides that anyone can sue the state of Vermont for violating the Global Warming Solutions Act if emissions don’t drop by 26% in 2025 and by 40% in 2030. 

Source: PGANE



Vermont Climate Action Plan Priority Actions

27 October 2021

As the December 1 deadline in the Global Warming Solutions Act approaches, the planning work of the Vermont Climate Council is coming to an end and policy decisions are being made. Below are ten high priority actions discussed at VT Climate Council meetings last week.

  1. Weatherize 120,000 homes. 
  2. Require rental properties to meet efficiency standards.
  3. Create a Clean Heat Standard to encourage fuel dealers and service companies to offer low carbon heating solutions like biodiesel blended heating oil and wood pellets.  
  4. Require all new water heaters to be electric with demand response controls. 
  5. Require all electricity sold in Vermont to be renewable by 2030.  
  6. Require new homes to install 200 amp service for EV charging and heat pumps.
  7. Join the Transportation Climate Initiative, a regional program that would raise the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
  8. Require that all new vehicles sold after 2035 to have zero emissions. 
  9. Require all new state fleet light-duty vehicle to be electric.
  10. Reduce vehicle miles traveled by increasing walking, biking and public transportation.

Information from: PGANE


What’s the Most Beloved Feature in Millions of Homes Across America?

15 October 2021

The fireplace. 

More than half of all homeowners (57 percent) have some type of fireplace, wood-burning stove or other hearth product in their home. And usage is high during peak season. In wintertime, 38 percent of all homes with some kind of hearth product use their fireplace, freestanding stove, fireplace insert or fire pit almost every day, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)


The national group’s 2016 Hearth Ownership and Market Potential Study found that 81 percent of all hearth product owners report that they “love” their fireplace, stove or insert. October is observed as National Fireplace Month by the hearth industry and promoted to consumers with product guidelines, maintenance, safety tips and other information. This year industry professionals are highlighting the importance and value of fireplaces and other hearth products during home renovations, new construction, or home purchases.

“Different parts of the country experience October with varying types of weather and temperatures. But for households nationwide it’s still the ideal time to get fireplaces, stoves, inserts and other wood-burning systems prepared for winter,” said Joel Etter, President of the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA). “The northeast states we serve are already feeling the chill in the air, and many of our customers are well along with annual maintenance and inspections from certified technicians.”


The 2021 theme for #NationalFireplaceMonth is “House-Warming” – as a way to remind homeowners that a fireplace is one of the best gifts they can give themselves when building, buying or renovating.

“The fireplace, the stove, or other wood-burning heating products are routinely at the top of the list when Americans are building, buying or updating a home with renovations,” Etter said. “It’s a safe and reliable heating source during unexpected climate events. And it provides a secure, comfortable sanctuary for families where they can be together.”

The month-long October spotlight on fireplace, wood stove and other heart products comes as northeast households as well as homes in other parts of the U.S. have families preparing for potentially sharp increases in the price of other fuels.

“Maintaining energy diversity is critical for household safety and security during major weather events and natural disasters,” said Karen Arpino, Executive Director of the NEHPBA. “It’s also an important household-economics objective that allows homeowners more control over winter heating costs.”

The HPBA expects that during this fireplace season consumers will be spending more time at home than ever before, in part because of the “uncertainty swirling outside our homes.”

“Every fuel and every heating system has its role and its place in the market for American homeowners. But do you think people have the same love and affinity for their oil burner, electric heat system, or gas furnace as they do for their fireplace? The answer is a pretty firm: No,” said Arpino from NEHPBA. “The fireplace and hearth are very unique in that they promote family togetherness. That’s why this month is very special for our industry and the millions of households we serve.”


Update on the Vermont Climate Action Plan

8 October 2021

The lead story is once again about the pending Vermont Climate Action Plan. As the December 1 deadline in the Global Warming Solutions Act approaches, the planning work of the Climate Council is coming to an end and policy decisions are being made.

Below are ten high priority actions discussed at Climate Council meetings this week.

  1. Weatherize 120,000 homes. 
  2. Require rental properties to meet efficiency standards.
  3. Create a Clean Heat Standard to encourage fuel dealers and service companies to offer low carbon heating solutions like biodiesel blended heating oil and wood pellets. 
  4. Require all new water heaters to be electric with demand response controls. 
  5. Require all electricity sold in Vermont to be renewable by 2030
  6. Require new homes to install 200 amp service for EV charging and heat pumps.
  7. Join the Transportation Climate Initiative, a regional program that would raise the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
  8. Require that all new vehicles sold after 2035 to have zero emissions.
  9. Require all new state fleet light-duty vehicle to be electric.
  10. Reduce vehicle miles traveled by increasing walking, biking and public transportation.

If the plan doesn’t produce results, anyone can sue the state for failing to comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act.   Click here to enter your comments into the record. 


Source: The Fuel Line - October 8, 2021


From Hurricane Season To Winter – Will Texans Have Enough Power?

27 September 2021

Fall is about to arrive in Texas, and while the cooler temperatures will be a welcome relief, they will also be an unwelcome reminder of February's winter storm. The question remains, will Texas have enough power?

"You've got to hope that the grid is ready for the normal wear and tear of the winter" said David Holt, President of the Consumer Energy Alliance.

The hope is that the Texas energy grid will be ready. Governor Abbott and Texas lawmakers vowed that ERCOT was fixed, and to their credit we did not have any power outages or blackouts during the summer. There was however a major loss last week in the aftermath of hurricane Nicholas.

"We've got to meet our energy needs is the point" Holt told KTRH, "You have to hope that the grid is ready, willing, and able to meet all of the energy needs that we have."

Click to listen to full interview

consumerenergyalliance.org


Punishing weather is a reminder on importance of energy diversity.

8 September 2021

September 8, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Punishing weather is a reminder on importance of energy diversity. Electric power grid is highly vulnerable to Mother Nature.

NEHPBA: Preserving access to natural gas and other fuel sources is critical for emergency readiness in major weather events. Power loss can threaten lives in winter.

Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association today urged residents across New England and the Northeast to take extra safety precautions in the wake of a punishing tropical storm that downed power lines, caused dangerous flash floods, and littered roads and other public ways with fallen trees and branches across the region.

More than 200k households in the Northeast were without power Thursday morning following hours of torrential rain and heavy winds as the remnants of Hurricane Ida arrived in the Northeast as a still-violent tropical storm. The burst of dangerous weather is a stark reminder that America’s power grid is most vulnerable to failure when Mother Nature delivers overwhelming storm conditions.

“It’s the season when we expect hurricanes and tropical storms. But it’s still a huge challenge for electric utilities to defend against nature’s most brutal weather,” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA and Senior Wholesale Account Manager for Hearth & Home Technologies. “America’s power grids were simply not built to withstand these kinds of storms on a continual basis. Our electric power infrastructure is aging and increasingly unreliable under severe conditions.”

The U.S. Department of Energy says the number of power blackouts is increasing, and that hurricanes and other extreme weather events are the biggest threat to electric grids. The availability of multiple energy sources to consumers and businesses is one strong defense mechanism – both in this tropical storm season as well as in the dangerous cold of winter.

NEHPBA is part of a cross-section of industry associations and advocates fighting to maintain energy diversity in the marketplace – as special interests support initiatives to ban natural gas, complicate regulations around propane and wood-burning fuel products and limit choices for home-heating systems. The industry is working together with other businesses as well as consumers to ensure natural gas continues to be available in New England and the Northeast as part of a complete range of energy choices.

“This hurricane season will be a major challenge along the entire East Coast. But in New England and the Northeast, our most dangerous weather is still most often during the winter,” said Karen Arpino, Executive Director of NEHPBA. “The winds, heavy snow, and ice from a big N’Oreaster routinely knock out power to tens of thousands of households at a time. Every year we see people placed in real danger because their heating system is reliant solely on electricity.”

Survey data commissioned by the nationwide Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association in November 2020 found 65 percent of American voters polled believe it’s either “very important” or “somewhat important” to have multiple fuel choices for home heating. Additionally, 71 percent of voters surveyed said it was either “very important” or “somewhat important” to keep their home heating system without being forced to switch fuel types.

NEHPBA recognizes the changing landscape of the energy and fossil fuel industry. Its members and leadership are committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate-centric fuel sources throughout the region’s homes and businesses. However, NEHPBA has expressed about the hyper-focus on electric heat through heat pumps. Currently, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts alone, 50.6 percent of homes (1.3 million individual households) heat with natural gas; and 27 percent (700,000+ households) heat with oil. Allowing homeowners energy choice and energy diversity is important in the northeast where power outages as a result of winter weather are very common. Heat pumps lose efficiency once temperatures dip below 40 degrees and are no longer the most efficient heating option once temperatures fall to 25 to 30 degrees.

“Banning new natural gas connections or curbing existing use dramatically will hurt Americans when costs of living are already high. It’s important for consumers and business to be united in opposing such proposals at the local and state level,” said Luther. “An over-reliance on electric power for heating and cooking exposes households to higher risks when major weather events knock out the grid. There are vivid new examples of this every year – as we are once again seeing now.”

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.


Legislator briefings with Rep. Carolyn Dykema and Rep. Jeffrey Roy

21 July 2021

NEHPBA leadership had productive meetings on June 17, 2021 with Massachusetts Rep. Carolyn C. Dykema (D-Holliston) and Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin). 

Rep. Dykema is chairperson of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and Rep. Roy chairs the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.

Both committees and both legislators are central to and influential in ongoing energy-policy discussions on Beacon Hill and the creation of any related legislative proposals. We have been particularly encouraged by their informed and reasonable stance on matters relative to the ongoing availability of safe, clean natural gas to Massachusetts homeowners and businesses. 

Both legislators were welcoming and gracious – as well as eager to learn more about the hearth industry and the importance of NEHPBA members’ service and product expertise to millions of households in New England. And both expressed strong support for small businesses like the majority of NEHPBA members and recognition of their critical role in the economy. It’s important for NEHPBA and its members to be stakeholders at the table on important policy matters impacting our industry. We are confident Rep. Dykema and Rep. Roy value the input of NEHPBA in that role. 

We look forward to continued dialogue with both of these legislators, as well as other key state government leaders with the potential to impact our industry. And we have scheduled legislative meetings with House and Senate representatives in other states in the region throughout August.

NEHPBA is YOUR industry’s voice on Beacon Hill and at state houses in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York.




NEHPBA Sends Letter to Gov Baker Offering to Be a Resource in Implementing Next Generation Roadmap for MA Climate Policy

28 June 2021

On Friday, June 25th, the day that the Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy went into effect, Northeast HPBA sent a letter to Governor Baker's office offering to be a resource in implementing the plan. Below is a copy of the letter.


Massachusetts New Climate Law Takes Effect Today

25 June 2021

State’s energy policies must now weigh equity, climate concerns and community safety alongside cost and energy needs

Massachusetts' breakthrough climate law takes legal effect today, 90 days after it was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker. Most notably, effective today, the scope and mission of one state agency, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), has changed dramatically. The DPU can no longer make decisions strictly based on the criteria of system reliability and affordability, instead it must factor in the effects of our energy system on residents health and safety and the climate, as well as cumulative impacts for environmental justice communities.

The bill rode a rollercoaster on the way to passage in late 2020 and early 2021. Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a version of the legislation that came to his desk days before the end of the 2019-2020 legislative session. When it reached his desk again in January, Governor Baker sent watered down amendments back to the legislature. House and Senate leaders responded to pressure from their constituents and overwhelmingly rejected efforts to weaken key parts of the legislation. The Governor finally capitulated and signed the bill into law in March 2021.

The Department of Public Utilities must align its policymaking with an ambitious new mission. Under the Next Generation Roadmap*, the DPU must give equal weight to six factors as it decides electric power and natural gas rates, reviews contracts with electric and gas companies, and makes policy. System reliability and affordability, the DPU's two long standing priorities, will remain crucial, but starting today the DPU must also consider four new criteria -- safety, system security (from both cyberattacks and physical sabotage), equity, and reductions in climate pollution (GHG).

“This bill takes an important step by putting equity and climate explicitly in the mission of our utility oversight. It's been long overdue.” said Lee Matsueda of Community Labor United, “Now our energy policy will have more clear guidance to better serve Environmental Justice communities, and confront disproportionate impact and unequal treatment.”

Also starting today is the requirement that all parties - the state agencies, the utilities, the program administrators - involved in running Mass Save must factor the “social value of greenhouse gas emission reductions” into the design, evaluation, and approval of program service. Essentially, until now, the benefits of not burning dirty fuel for health and climate justice have been missing from the cost-benefit analysis. “With the social value and benefits of equitable energy efficiency being finally added to the equation, we will see deeper investments in these critical programs.” said Andrea Nyamekye of Neighbor to Neighbor, “Cleaner air, lower heating and cooling bills, and lower asthma rates in historically impacted communities.”

This new requirement begins little more than a month after the Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee shared a Draft 2022-2024 Energy Efficiency Plan. During the last public comment session, advocates highlighted another new statutory requirement, effective today, to align the plan’s goals and benchmarks with the new emissions targets that will be established on July 15 by the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

The Green Justice Coalition has worked for years to increase access to energy efficiency programs in language isolated and low-income communities. “Residents in our state are struggling with high utility bills and economic hardship after COVID-19; with the rising temperatures every year, we cannot let our communities suffer any longer. We call on the Baker Administration to address the barriers that are preventing participation by members of EJ communities and reject any 3-year plan that doesn’t center the needs of these communities.” said Paulina Casasola, Climate Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action.

“Governor Baker had succumbed to the interests of real estate lobby groups and attempted to water down key provisions in the bill, targeting the net zero stretch provisions,” Sarah Dooling of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network said. “But advocates got this bill over the finish line by demanding buildings be part of the climate solution, and legislators listened. Building code is now valued as a core part of the climate movement. The bill also adds three new seats to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards -- with expertise in commercial and residential building energy efficiency, and advanced building technology. The BBRS is now in a position to work effectively with the Department of Energy Resources on developing a true net zero stretch code guided by community input.”

*NEHPBA has been invited to part of this DPU stakeholder process. We are part of the conversation!

Source: State House News



Brookline MA Once Again Trying to Ban Fossil Fuels, This Time it Could Work

9 June 2021

TOWN OF BROOKLINE

ANNUAL TOWN MEETING, JUNE 01, 2021 

From a previous action:

The Town of Brookline released the Warrant Articles this afternoon for the May 19th Annual Town Meeting. Included in this Town Meeting will be the modified Warrant Article 21, which as you remember was the proposed general by-law to prohibit fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and significant renovation. Below is a brief summary of warrant article 26. The full the full article can be found on pages 28-34 of the Brookline Annual Town Meeting Warrant.

The amended article aims to limit the installation of new fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and significant renovations through the Towns existing special permitting process. Essentially Under this Article, a special permit for a project that includes new construction or significant renovations may be issued only if the proposal does not include new fossil fuel infrastructure or if the permit is made subject to conditions that will ensure the property will be converted to electric infrastructure in the future. These conditions may include expiration of the permit in 2030 or after five years—whichever comes later—or alternatively upon transfer of the property outside the family. Upon the expiration of such a permit, the owner would be required to bring the property into zoning compliance by removing and replacing the fossil fuel infrastructure or the construction or use that triggered the special permit condition in the first place. This Article requires that property owners subject to an expiring special permit receive notice from the Town well in advance of the expiration date.

How it works:

Special permits are used to seek zoning relief. Those who seek special permits for major construction projects (new construction and gut renovation) will have two options: 1. To choose a regular special permit and to build Fossil Fuel Free) FFF (defined here as it was in WA21, with essentially the same exemptions and waivers) 2. To choose an expiring special permit and to build non-FFF (defined here as it was in WA21, with essentially the same exemptions and waivers)

Photo By RICK SOBEY Boston Herald PUBLISHED: November 21, 2019


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10 May 2021

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New Hampshire CALL-TO-ACTION: Freedom of Energy Choice Legislation

6 May 2021

Protect your business! We've made the CALL-TO-ACTION easy!

The public hearing on HPBA Bill SB 86 to protect propane from state bans is coming up on May 10! Use this link to email the municipal committee and ask them to vote YES on SB 86. https://oneclickpolitics.global.ssl.fastly.net/messages/edit?promo_id=12892

The New Hampshire House Municipal and County Committee is considering Part III of SB 86, a bill that will ensure that all citizens have the right to choose their own energy source. Please protect consumers' right to choose propane and ask them to vote YES on Part III of SB 86.

Part III of SB 86 is an omnibus legislative proposal that deals with consumer choice as it pertains to deciding how to heat your home and business. Please participate! Send this email. We need as many emails as possible for the committee hearing BEFORE Monday, May 10th!

Please insert your company information in the first line. Feel free to forward to your employees, reps, dealers, and managers and share on your social media pages!

Thank you for your industry support.


NEHPBA Calls for Greater Focus on Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)

29 April 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEHPBA Calls for Greater Focus on Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) 

Alternative fuel source is plentiful in decomposing food and animal waste More investment needed in RNG technology and research  

Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) today urged its industry members and their customers to join a call for more investment in Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) technology and focus on more research into RNG’s value as a renewable power source with multiple applications. 

Renewable Natural Gas is a carbon-free fuel alternative derived by extracting methane from decomposing food scraps and animal manure. Waste material are processed through systems called anaerobic digesters that sustainably repurpose the waste into a renewable power source. RNG is also transported and distributed through existing infrastructure, so there is no need to build new pipelines. 

“Massachusetts is a national leader in addressing food waste, and maintains strict guidelines on the management and disposal of commercial food waste in particular,” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA. “This has created natural incentives for high-waste producing organizations to participate in waste-to-energy partnerships.” 

Reducing food waste in landfills while increasing the supply of clean energy and reducing greenhouse gasses represents an important opportunity for Massachusetts and other Northeast states. But the issue needs a stronger emphasis and priority placed on new technology, research and investment. NEHPBA represents more than 250 member retailers, service providers and other businesses in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and New York in addition to Massachusetts. 

Several recent Massachusetts policy developments may help encourage The Commonwealth to investigate supply and obstacles to RNG. They include:

  1. The recently enacted Massachusetts Climate Legislation 
  2. The Clean Energy Climate Plan 
  3. The Mass. Department of Public Utilities report into the future of natural gas

Of the approximately 200 anaerobic digestion systems across the United States, 13 have been established and installed in Massachusetts. Each digester can produce roughly enough biogas to fuel about 2,000 homes.  

“Massachusetts represents about two percent of the total U.S. population, and the state has about 6.5 percent of the nation’s processing infrastructure for waste-to-energy conversion,” said NEHPBA Executive Director Karen Arpino. “The Commonwealth is already out front as a leader in supporting this important method for creating more renewable fuel alternatives. It’s important to build on that by advocating for more widespread use and adoption of RNG.” 

In New Hampshire, as a new waste-to-energy facility is underway in Bethlehem, the state projects RNG will represent about 8 percent of its energy mix until 2025.  Three New York dairy farms have partnered with an energy provider on a new facility under development in Western New York and the Finger Lakes region. And one of Maine’s major natural gas concerns – Summit Utilities – is also developing a an RNG production facility in partnership with several local farms. 

Data and projections show that sufficient RNG production could recycle enough organic waste to supply all current commercial gas demand nationwide. Alternatively, 75 percent of current residential demand or 45 percent of industrial demand could be met.  

NEHPBA and the entire industry are working together with other businesses as well as consumers to ensure that a range of energy choices continue to be available in the Northeast – that includes natural gas, propane and oil heat systems as well as wood-burning appliances.


About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002. 



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NEHPBA Urges Gov. Charlie Baker to Fix Deeply Flawed Climate Change Legislation

5 February 2021

February 5, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


NEHPBA Urges Gov. Charlie Baker to Fix Deeply Flawed Climate Change Legislation

The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association backs Gov. Baker’s position that S. 9 is based on ‘flawed analysis’ and creates prohibitive costs for energy users


Sudbury, MAThe Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) today urged Gov. Charlie Baker’s to fix a deeply ‘flawed’ climate change bill that would raise costs prohibitively for energy users and eliminate the use of natural gas and home heating oil.

The trade association represents more than 300 retailers and service providers that specialize in wood-burning home heating systems, chimneys and hearths and also service natural gas systems and equipment. NEHPBA – on behalf of its members and millions of consumers - is urging Baker to make significant amendments to the bill, now numbered S. 9.

“In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we have over 60 member-companies supporting 350 families: the vast majority of them are independent “mom and pop” small businesses who are significant community contributors in the markets they serve across the Commonwealth,” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA and Senior Wholesale Account Manager for Hearth & Home Technologies out of Brockton, MA. “The elimination of gas in new construction will immediately put our member retailers and the associate businesses related to them (chimney sweeps and installers) out of business.”

NEHPBA recognizes the changing landscape of the energy and fossil fuel industry. Its members and leadership are committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate-centric fuel sources throughout our homes and businesses. However, moving immediately to a Net Zero model could result in skyrocketing electric rates and potentially inhibit access to more affordable sources of fuel and power—negatively affecting the most vulnerable among us.

“We strongly agree with the observations made in both the Governor’s original veto language to S. 9. as well as comments made by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Theoharides, citing both the prohibitive costs and flawed analysis in the climate legislation approved by the General Court,” said Karen Luther, Executive Director of NEHPBA. “In particular, we agree with the Administration’s assessment that the elimination of home heating oil would be particularly burdensome and expensive to taxpayers. Governor Baker rightly vetoed the original version of this deeply flawed legislation in January. Now he has the opportunity to insist on critical changes that will protect small businesses, consumers and households across the Commonwealth.”

Among the problems NEHPBA has identified with S. 9:

  • NEHPBA opposes the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to have consultative powers on the building code. By allowing the DOER to consult on building code, Massachusetts would essentially be allowing the building code to become an energy code. 
  • NEHPBA opposes the mandated replacement of systems that use fossil fuels. Already this season we have had two power outages that have had homeowners relying on gas and wood heat. Additionally, the elimination of fossil fuels would eliminate the last of the mom and pop, family owned small business in this state. The new jobs created are not transferrable and would not be available to these business owners who rely on the sales and installation of gas and wood fueled heating and decorative appliances.
  • NEHPBA is concerned on multiple levels about the hyper-focus on electric heat through heat pumps. Currently, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 50.6 percent of homes (1.3 million individual households) heat with natural gas; and 27 percent (700,000+ households) heat with oil. Allowing homeowners energy choice and energy diversity is important in the northeast where power outages as a result of winter weather are very common. Heat pumps lose efficiency once temperatures dip below 40 degrees and are no longer the most efficient heating option once temperatures fall to 25 to 30 degrees. 

NEHPBA and the entire industry are working together with other businesses as well as consumers to ensure that a range of energy choices continue to be available in the Northeast – that includes natural gas, propane and oil heat systems as well as wood-burning appliances.

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.

Media contacts:

Karen L. Luther - NEHPBA

karen@nehpba.org

978.440.0344


Cosmo Macero Jr. - Seven Letter

cosmo@sevenletter.com

617-799-0488



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